Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Turning a Blind Eye:' Oilpatch Impacts Concern Mayor of Alberta Town

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Turning a Blind Eye:' Oilpatch Impacts Concern Mayor of Alberta Town

Article excerpt

Alberta mayor concerned by oilpatch impacts

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FOX CREEK, Alta. - The mayor of an Alberta town in an area of heavy hydraulic fracking is expressing concern over the oil industry's impact after yet another earthquake hit his community.

"Fox Creek town council is very concerned," Jim Ahn wrote in a letter to reporters Wednesday. "It seems industry and the provincial government have been turning a blind eye as to what has been going on in our area."

Fox Creek, a resource town that relies on oil, gas and forestry for its jobs, was hit Tuesday by a quake that measured 4.8 on the Richter scale -- big enough to rumble buildings and shake pictures on the wall and count as the strongest ever recorded in Alberta.

It was the town's 367th seismic event since January 2015.

The Alberta Energy Regulator hasn't definitively linked the activity to the amount of fracking in the area, but it has implemented special regulations and is conducting research.

Earthquakes aren't the only thing Ahn is concerned about.

"We have industry pulling water from our rivers, streams and lakes at rates we feel far exceed their capabilities to replenish themselves," he wrote. "We do not want to be left with swamps that were once prize trophy lakes."

The town has had to spend $300,000 to truck in water after levels in the aquifers it normally depends on fell too low, said Ahn. It has received whistleblower reports of drilling rig leaks that could affect Fox Creek's water supply and received contradictory messages from those involved.

In an interview, Ahn said the town's frustration is mostly with the regulator for, too often, not telling Fox Creek about what's going on.

"They just leave us in the dark."

When the regulator does communicate, it doesn't consider the realities of a small town, the mayor suggested.

Council must apply -- and pay -- to get specifics on who's drilling for what, and where. …

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